Articles, Literacy, Reading

How to Identify Reading Difficulties

The signs listed below can be informative for parents who want to stay on top of their child’s reading and literacy development, as well as for those parents who suspect that there may be reason for concern. This list will give you an idea of what to look for or take note of.

Does your child…

  • have difficulty recognizing rhyming words?
  • struggle to identify words that start with the same sound?
  • struggle with associations between letters and their sounds?
  • still confuse vowel sounds?
  • have difficulty manipulating the sounds in words?
  • guess words based on the first letter rather than sounding them out?
  • leave out/skip words in a sentence?
  • add words that are not there?
  • struggle to recognize repeated words, sounding out the same words repeatedly?
  • constantly reread words or parts of a sentence even when they are familiar with the words or have read them correctly?
  • occasionally read words in reverse? E.g. ‘saw’ is read as ‘was’
  • make visual errors where they confuse letters such as b, d, v, w, f, t, m, u and n?
  • leave off the endings of some words? E.g. ‘games’ becomes ‘game’
  • add endings that are not there? E.g. ‘play’ becomes ‘playing’
  • struggle to segment the sounds in words? (Segment means to break words up into sounds = spelling)
  • struggle to blends the sounds in words? (Blending means to push the sounds together to form words = reading)
  • make no attempt to self-correct?
  • show signs of resisting or avoiding reading activities?
  • read excruciatingly slowly, one word at a time, sounding out each and every word to the point that all meaning in the sentence is lost?
  • read words in isolation with inappropriately long pauses between each word in a sentence?
  • making advanced phonic errors because they do not know the language code? E.g. Reads

The good news

The good news is that there is no need to panic if your child is showing signs of difficulty in learning to read. Most children can overcome any difficulties they experience with relative ease, especially if caught early on. With the right intervention – in the form of direct, systematic, explicit instruction – your child can be reading at grade level in a relatively short period of time. Responding early to your concerns is key to making sure that there is minimal disruption to your child’s education.

It is worthwhile keeping in mind that ‘learning to read’ is the most important learning outcomes of the Foundation Phase. From Grade 4 onwards, they need to be able to ‘read to learn’. Reading is the foundation for all other mainstream education. Therefore, if intervention is required it should ideally take place during the Foundation Phase. If a child can read with ease every other aspect of their education journey is going to be easier for them.

For those parents with older children who still struggle, you’ll be pleased to know that they can still be helped to overcome their reading challenges. Intervention may take more time and a bit more effort than it would with a younger child, but they can be helped and it can be life-changing for a young person who struggles daily. The reason why the process may take longer is because with older children the reading therapist would most likely be dealing with issues such as a lack of motivation, lack of self-confidence, feelings of inadequacy, insecurity and hopelessness. The knock-on effect of falling behind in reading would be academic delays in other subjects. This young person would then have to catch up in reading and literacy as well as all their other subjects, making their academic burden that much greater.

As I said earlier, it is always advisable to respond as early as possible to any signs of difficulty with learning to read.

Further reading

The Science of Reading by Lianne Bantjes

The plight of older children who can’t (yet) read fluently by Lianne Bantjes

Literacy & Reading Intervention by Lianne Bantjes

What is Literacy? by Lianne Bantjes

To explore working with Lianne in Randburg / Sandton and other areas in Johannesburgcontact her to discuss how she can assist you.

Literacy, Reading

The plight of older children who can’t (yet) read fluently.

Is it ever too late to step in and help them learn to read?

Imagine how a 13 to 18 year old child feels at school if they are still unable to read fluently? Put yourself in their shoes and try to imagine how it must feel to have to go on with your academic schooling even though you do not have adequate knowledge and skills in place to cope? The one most important skill, reading, is one of your biggest daily challenges. You duck and dive to avoid doing it.

The minute the teacher starts calling on students to read aloud in class your anxiety skyrocket. You start to sweat. Your eyes water as your heart rate increases. You are so focused on your fear that you cannot listen to the lesson. You can only think about what would happen if the teacher calls your name. It is fear-inducing. It is distracting. It is debilitating. Each year gets harder and harder for you.

This person may feel…

  • humiliated
  • embarrassed
  • inadequate
  • stupid
  • frustrated
  • overwhelmed
  • shy
  • anxious
  • burdened
  • hopeless
  • resigned
  • excluded

These types of emotions are a burden. These are all very negative emotions and when felt continuously, on a daily basis for a prolonged period of time, they could have a damaging effect on a child’s sense of self-worth, their confidence levels, their dreams for the future as well as their sense of social standing. More importantly, it also makes it more difficult for a child to stay the course and remain in school until their final year.

It is never too late to learn to read

By the time a child reaches high school, it seems that everyone, including themselves, has given up on them ever being able to improve their reading skills or to catch up with their peers. They often get unfairly labeled as someone who can’t be helped. The beliefs behind giving up are …

  • it’s too late to learn to read in high school
  • he/she is slow / stupid / not the brightest
  • if he/she was capable of reading they would have learned to read already
  • if everyone else managed to learn to read why couldn’t they do the same
  • primary school is when you learn to read, not high school
  • there isn’t time to focus on developing reading skills now

In contrast to these beliefs, I believe that it is never too late to learn to read. I have taught several adults and teens to read or improve their reading and it has completely transformed their lives. Their image of themselves and their sense of place in this world transformed too. In the same way, improved reading fluency can change the trajectory of a child’s life.

Ensuring that a child is literate and fluent in reading is worth every moment of time spent teaching them and every cent spent in getting them there. It is an invaluable gift that can never be taken away from them. It opens doors, creates choice and possibility and completely changes the learner’s perspective.

How to help a teenager that cannot yet read at grade level?

  • Be sensitive to their self-consciousness around reading.
  • Be honest with them about what their inability to read means for their future.
  • Brainstorm ideas with them about how increased reading fluency can make life easier for them and open doors in the future.
  • Connect reading with their dreams, passions and interests to motivate them.
  • Find examples for them of role models who have dyslexia and have managed to overcome it (Baigelman, L.)
  • Stress the fact that, as their parent, you believe that with the right help they will be able to improve their reading fluency.
  • Knowing that someone sees potential in you is very powerful and motivating.
  • Hire a reading specialist/reading therapist whose work is based on the science of learning to read and who will focus on building their self-confidence.
  • Ensure that the lessons are one-to-one and not as part of a group.
  • Read aloud to your teen and ensure that this time is bonding time, relaxing and fun. There is evidence that reading aloud to teens has many benefits.
  • Never criticize their reading. This way they’ll know that you’re on their side.
  • Never give up on them – everyone can learn to read.

Further reading

The Science of Reading by Lianne Bantjes

Literacy & Reading Intervention by Lianne Bantjes

10 Ways to Encourage your High-schooler to Read by Louise Baigelman, MEd (Understood)

What is Literacy? by Lianne Bantjes

Why I read aloud to my teenagers by Guilia Rhodes (The Guardian)

Articles, Literacy, Reading

The Science of Reading

References to ‘The Science of Reading’ are popping up all over the place. Globally there is a push to have the science behind learning to read brought into teacher training, classroom practices and professional development. This is because on an international scale we seem to be failing children in developing their literacy skills at a time when it has become more important than ever.  READ MORE about how literacy is defined today and why it is even more essential than before by clicking HERE.

Reading fluency and strong literacy skills are developed in a child when there is cooperation between the school and home environment. For things to be optimal, both places have to play their part. Being able to read does not happen as a result of 30 minutes of phonics instruction per day.  It takes much more than that – it takes exposure to books, storytelling and people reading in a child’s everyday environment as well as the opportunity to practice and access to reading material.

If a family shows an interest in books and reading then their children get the message that reading is important and not solely a school-based activity with little practical application in the real world. This message is very powerful to a young learner who may be struggling to learn to read.

The Science of Reading involves not just regular phonics instruction but instruction in all the types of knowledge that forms the foundation of skilled reading. It also advocates for exposure to language and text in a multitude of ways, both at home and at school.

Written language is a code

It is generally accepted that written language is a code for the sounds that we make when speaking a language. Letters, or letter combinations, represent our spoken sounds – they are pictures or symbols that represent these sounds. Mastering this code allows learners to read words. Reading words, however, is not enough as the reason for reading is to seek meaning. Therefore, the process of reading to learn goes beyond this. The Science of Reading stresses five keys to learning to read effectively.

The Five Keys to Reading

  1. Phonemic awareness
    • It is the ability to hear, identify and manipulate individual sounds (phonemes) in spoken words.
  2. Phonics
    • Phonics is knowledge of the relationship between sounds and letters.
    • Phonics instruction requires a good foundation in phonemic awareness.
    • Phonics instruction, without sufficient phonemic awareness in place, results in slow progress, frustration and ultimately a disinterest in reading because it becomes too difficult.
  3. Fluency
    • If children cannot decode what they see on the page, they cannot become fluent readers.
    • Fluency is when they move beyond decoding and are able to recognize words automatically, accurately and quickly.
    • When recognition and understanding connect it results in fluency.
  4. Vocabulary
    • Children need to gain meaning from the words they read otherwise it is pointless.
    • Reading vocabulary refers to the words that can be read AND understood.
  5. Comprehension
    • This refers to reading comprehension
    • Reading comprehension is the sum of a child’s decoding ability, their vocabulary knowledge as well as their language comprehension.

There are two essential components of reading instruction:

  1. Instruction must be explicit
    • Clear and straightforward instruction is necessary when exposing learners to the code.
    • Direct modeling of skills making use of  ‘I do’, ‘We do’, ‘You do’ practice to move towards mastery.
  2. Instruction must be systematic and sequential
    • The presentation of sounds must be in a logical order.
    • Easier skills must be mastered before moving on to more difficult ones.
    • New learning must build on prior learning.

Working memory

While learning phonics children make use of their working memory. This is a higher order skill and forms part of our executive function.  Phonological memory is essential for learning phonics and decoding skills. Children need to be encouraged to expand the use of their working memory.

Auditory processing

Children who cannot distinguish small changes in sounds tend to struggle with phonics instruction. When teaching reading it is often assumed that auditory processing skills are fully developed. However, this is not true for all children, especially those that are learning English as a second or third language. This often means that they have not yet had enough exposure to the English language and therefore their brains are not wired to process these sounds. In mixed classrooms, it would be wise to build in compensatory activities giving additional exposure based on the use of numerous information processing techniques.

Two sides of the same coin

When reading you decode and when writing you encode. They are two sides of the same coin using the same code. Improvement in one of these two skills usually has a positive effect on the other.

Links & references

How the Brain Learns to Read by Sousa, D.A
https://www.amazon.com/Brain-Learns-Read-David-Sousa/dp/1483333949#:~:text=A%20modern%20classic%2C%20updated%20for,the%20Brain%20Learns%20to%20Read.

The Science of Reading Research by G. Reid Lyon and Vinita Chhabra
http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/mar04/vol61/num06/The-Science-of-Reading-Research.aspx

Lyon, G. R. (2002). Reading development, reading difficulties, and reading instruction: Educational and public health issues. Journal of School Psychology, 40, 3–6.

Moats, L. C. (1995). The missing foundation in teacher preparation. American Educator, 19(9), 43–51.

Moats, L. C. (1999). Teaching reading is rocket science. Washington, DC: American Federation of Teachers.

Shaywitz, S. E. (2003). Overcoming dyslexia. New York: Knopf.

Further reading

What is literacy by Lianne Bantjes
https://lbliteracy.co.za/what-is-literacy/

What is the Science of Reading by Timothy Shanahan
https://www.readingrockets.org/blogs/shanahan-literacy/what-science-reading

The Phono-graphix Reading Company
https://www.phono-graphix.com/index.php

Develop a culture of reading in your home by Lianne Bantjes
https://lbliteracy.co.za/develop-reading-culture/

Why you can’t skip reading to your child for 20 minutes per day by Lianne Bantjes
https://lbliteracy.co.za/why-you-cant-skip-reading-to-your-child-for-20-minutes-per-day/

To explore working with Lianne online in Randburg / Sandton and other areas in Johannesburgcontact her for a consultation to discuss how she can assist you.

Articles, Literacy

Activities to help develop a child’s working memory

Weak working memory skills can have a negative impact across different subject areas, including reading and math. The signs of a weak working memory usually appear early on. The ‘Symptoms of weak working memory in children‘ are outlined by Nikki Bush in her article published on her website, 16 May 2016. Once identified, there is much that can be done by parents and teachers to help develop a child’s working memory and overcome this barrier to learning.

Creating an environment that is conducive to learning and teaching your child strategies that help them cope with memory requirements will go a long way in ensuring that they experience success at school and in life.

Know where your child is at

In order to meet your child where they are at, and to mediate effectively, it is important that you know your child well and understand the current limits of their working memory. If you do not know what your child’s limits are, you can begin by observing them carefully while they are doing school work, completing chores or processing instructions to follow. It will quickly become apparent if there are problems.

If your child continually loses track of what he / she is meant to be doing, is easily distracted and seems to be overwhelmed by simple tasks, then you will know that they have reached the limits of their working memory.

Help your child’s teacher to know where they are at

Be open and honest with your child’s teachers so that they also understand where your child is at. They see your child in a group setting and so the way that they experience your child and their understanding of your child may be different from yours. You have much to learn from each other about your child. The communication between teacher and parent is one way to ensure that you work as a team, for the good of your child, and that what is taught at home and school correlates. Your child’s teachers will appreciate being kept in the loop and will be much more open to cooperating when they see the understanding you have and the effort you are putting in.

Below are some suggestions for strengthening working memory skills. This is not an exhaustive list of activities. These will give you a starting point, won’t break the bank and will hopefully not make you feel overwhelmed in terms of what you should and could be doing for your struggling child. Use these suggestions as a starting point and build from here if you feel more intervention is required.

I have included additional reading links at the bottom of this article for anyone who would like to investigate further.

1. Create structure through routines

  • Routines create structure and familiarity where repetitive daily tasks need to be learned and carried out.
  • Routines lower a child’s stress levels, making their day more predictable and feel more achievable.
  • When a child is able to automate a task it means that they no longer need to rely on their working memory to get it done. This will reduce the working memory load/burden your child experiences, which frees up their working memory or cognitive space to deal with new information, learning and problem-solving.
  • Consistency goes a long way in setting up routines – ensuring same time, same steps, same sequence are all important.
  • Setting up routines will need to be done at school as well as at home. Some children struggle with routines such as keeping their desk tidy, packing up at the end of a lesson, following lineup procedures and bathroom routines.

2. Chunk information into smaller pieces.

  • Help your child to break down what is required of them.
  • Slow down the pace of the delivery of information so that they have time to process it.
  • Break tasks into smaller, simplified and more manageable chunks.
  • Address one chunk one at a time and in sequence.
  • Use simple language.
  • Be specific and keep to short simple steps or instructions.
  • It often helps to write the steps down or to create graphic organizers to depict what needs to be learned.

3. Work on visualization skills.

  • Working memory forms part of a group of skills that make up executive function.
  • According to Michael Greschler of SMARTS, visualization strategies are a powerful way to engage executive function processes.
  • This strategy works by decreasing the working memory load and freeing up cognitive space for new learning.
  • It may also decrease a child’s anxiety around task completion and performance.
  • When a child is asked to visualize something, they learn to create visual representations of what they are hearing.
  • For many children, recalling visual information is much easier than recalling auditory information, as it becomes more concrete and less abstract for them.
  • Visualization strategies are not just applicable in childhood but can be seen as the development of a life skill and coping mechanism that can be carried through to adulthood.

4. Get them to teach what they have learned.

  • To check a child’s understanding and to cement the steps of a task in their memory, it can be helpful to ask them to repeat it back to you or to teach it to you or someone else in the family.
  • Teaching forces the child to make sense of the information they are holding on to.
  • It also forces them to break the task down into steps and to place them into a logical sequence and to check themselves.
  • If they experience a hiccup in either of these two areas while teaching, the problem can be rectified before they have to actually carry out the task in real life.
  • Through the teaching process, they soon discover any missing links in their understanding. They often fill these gaps themselves right in the moment or they may ask for help. Either way, the goal will have been achieved and learning will have taken place.
  • Teaching can be seen as a trial run. Knowing that they have this opportunity to test their knowledge and understanding may also have the effect of reducing stress and anxiety levels.

5. Play card games that improve memory.

  • Games that require a child to hold on to information for later use while remembering the rules of the game are always beneficial.
  • If a child experiences enjoyment during the game they are likely to play that game repeatedly, giving lots of opportunities to practice their skills and develop their working memory. The best part of all of this is that they won’t realize that they are learning as they’ll just be having fun.
  • Games like Go Fish, Crazy Eights (how to play with a standard deck of cards), DOS and Uno are classic examples of great memory games.

6. Encourage active reading.

  • Active reading strategies can be a powerful way to help your child cope better and hold onto information for longer. They should be taught these strategies from as young as possible.
  • Making use of colour when underlining and highlighting, as well as sticky notes, can make an enormous difference to a child who struggles to hold onto information needed to answer questions.
  • Reading aloud, discussion, asking questions, creating graphical depictions of the information and consciously connecting known information with new information can help a child with working memory.
  • This type of active engagement during reading needs to be taught and practiced. Once again, this is an essential life skill that a child can carry with them through to adulthood

Links

Visualize Executive Function by Michael Greschler, M.Ed., SMART Director
https://smarts-ef.org/blog/visualize-executive-function/

Working memory: Kid Sense.
https://childdevelopment.com.au/areas-of-concern/working-memory/

Working memory boosters: Understood.
https://www.understood.org/en/school-learning/learning-at-home/homework-study-skills/8-working-memory-boosters?_ul=1*4hwhxs*domain_userid*YW1wLUlxQWlsaXhKNzBxS3BYU3RCRzNGcnc.

Working memory? What it is and how it works?: Understood. https://www.understood.org/en/learning-thinking-differences/child-learning-disabilities/executive-functioning-issues/working-memory-what-it-is-and-how-it-works

Additional reading

What is working memory and why is it important? by Lianne Bantjes
https://lbliteracy.co.za/what-is-working-memory-and-why-is-it-important/

15 Amazing Memory Games For Kids by Parenting: First Cry https://parenting.firstcry.com/articles/15-amazing-memory-games-for-kids/

How to Help Kids With Working Memory Issues: Supportive Strategies by Rae Jacobson
https://childmind.org/article/how-to-help-kids-with-working-memory-issues/

Edge Toys. Educational toys for children of all ages
https://www.edgetoys.co.za/

To explore working with Lianne in Randburg / Sandton and other areas in Johannesburgcontact her for a consultation to discuss how she can assist you.

Articles, Literacy

What is working memory and why is it important?

Two girls making use of their working memory by playing chess. www.LBLiteracy.co.za

A child uses working memory to hold on to information long enough to use it. It affects a child’s ability to concentrate and complete minor, everyday tasks. Under-developed working memory skills can cause learning problems across many subjects and negatively affect a child’s school life.

Working memory is one of our cognitive systems, which has a limited capacity to hold information, for a short period of time, for use in everyday tasks. As a system, it plays a role in…

  • reasoning,
  • decision-making,
  • problem-solving,
  • learning
  • and behavior.

It is important to note that short-term memory and working memory are not the same thing.

Working memory analogy

Try to picture working memory as the surface of a desk. Obviously, the bigger the desk the more space you have to work on and the more tools, resources and information it can hold at one time. A bigger desk surface helps us to easily cope with bigger more complex tasks. While we are busy with a task we use the desk surface to organize ourselves and to hold everything we need. We can spread ourselves out and get on with the task at hand, reaching for the tools we need which are just a short distance away.

If you have an extremely large desk surface you could perhaps manage several tasks or projects at the same time, without having to pack anything away as you move between tasks.

A smaller desk surface, on the other hand, can get messy and chaotic making it hard to accommodate everything that we need or to find what we require. Sometimes we have to clear certain things off the desk to accommodate other things that we require more immediately. It becomes challenging to remain organized. The point is that each individual person’s desk has a unique capacity.

Working memory operates in a similar way. In our working memory we hold the information, tools and resources that we may need in the short term, to complete a task, make decisions, or even to problem solve. The capacity of our working memory affects what we can achieve and how easily and smoothly we are able to work. This is because it involves the processing, manipulation & transformation of verbal and visual information.

It is a bit like getting ready to bake a cake. In an ideal world, you would have enough surface space in your kitchen to lay out everything you will need – recipe, mixing bowls, mixers, spatula, whisks, baking trays, measuring spoons, sieve, scale, etc. In addition, you would be able to fit all the ingredients you will need on the countertop in an organized fashion. Ingredients such as flour, eggs, sugar, baking powder, butter, vanilla essence and salt. Having enough surface space to hold all of your baking tools and ingredients will allow you to be organized, follow the steps in the recipe sequentially and to quickly and easily produce a perfect cake. On the other hand, baking in a kitchen with very limited counter space can be challenging, complicated and messy – not impossible – but not easy. There is more room for error and failure when things are messy and chaotic. You will have to go back and forth multiple times between the cupboard and the counter to get what you need. You might have to layer things one on top of the other or place them on the floor to create more surface space to work on. It could be a bit of a juggle.

Working memory likened to getting ready to bake. www.LBLiteracy.co.za

A child with a well-developed working memory is able to bring to the fore and hold on to a list of instructions, sequential information or previously learned skills and knowledge, until they are needed to complete a task. A child with an extensive working memory could manage to hold many more resources and easily and independently complete several tasks within a short space of time. In contrast, a child with a weak working memory would struggle to hold on to everything required to successfully complete a task or to follow a simple set of instructions.

Case Study 1

As teachers, we all know the child in a classroom who is left behind as the rest of the class moves to the next classroom. He hasn’t yet…

  • labeled his work,
  • hasn’t placed his work in the paper tray,
  • hasn’t returned the book he was using,
  • hasn’t packed up all his belongings,
  • hasn’t straightened his desk,
  • hasn’t pushed in his chair
  • and hasn’t put on his blazer
  • even though the teacher listed what needed doing at least 5 times.

He is the kid that is feeling anxious because…

  • he has been abandoned by his peers,
  • anxious because he knows he is now late for his next class,
  • anxious because he will probably be teased or chided in the next room,
  • feels self-conscious because he didn’t manage to follow the instructions given by the teacher,
  • is still in the classroom when the next class arrives,
  • knows that as he leaves the arriving class will have something to say,

He laughs on the outside but feels terrible on the inside.

Anxious boy with a weak working memory. www.LBLiteracy.co.za

He leaves the classroom with everything haphazardly stuffed into his bag, zip wide open, his bag thrown across his back, his blazer half on and half off, he is half running – a picture of disorganization. He is now late to get settled in the next classroom. He has started off on the wrong foot yet again. This is how this poor child stumbles through their school day. It is a blur of inability and anxiety, neither of which are conducive to learning. Home is a little different perhaps. There is less anxiety but he still cannot follow simple, sequential instructions and is always in trouble because his mom has to ask repeatedly for things to be done or completed. They miss out on so much learning because their brain is busy with feeling self-conscious and anxious.

Case Study 2

The teacher asks the class to do a math equation in their heads. She asks them to add 24 and 13 and to then subtract 9. A child’s working memory allows them to visualize the numbers they are hearing (24; 13; 9) and to hold on to them long enough to manipulate them. Working memory allows the child to hold on to the addition total (the manipulation of 24 and 13) so that the 9 can be subtracted and the answer given to the teacher.

A boy doing math calculations using his working memory. www.LBLiteracy.co.za

Hereafter, the child can let go of these numbers as their working memory has done its job. There is no longer a need to remember them. A child with working memory problems could have trouble at any stage of this task or at all stages, making it difficult to complete.

Weak working memory and its effect on school work and daily life

Children who have a hard time grasping sequential instructions, staying organized, prioritizing and following explicit directions and recalling how to do something they have done repeatedly may be facing difficulties with their working memory. Working memory is an executive function and plays a major role in how we process, remember and use the information to go about our daily tasks and solve life’s problems.

Working memory skills are essential to success in all aspects of the classroom, such as remembering what you heard, following a simple set of instructions, responding during a conversation, solving complicated math problems involving several steps, answering questions, holding on to an idea for use in a few moments time, holding on to information while waiting your turn and so much more.

Kid Sense identifies the following areas of learning that are greatly affected by poor working memory:

  • Maths
  • reading comprehension
  • complex problem solving
  • organizational skills
  • and assessments.

The biggest impact on school work occurs from difficulties with maths and reading comprehension (Kid Sense: Working Memory).

What can you do if your child has a weak working memory?

The good news is that a child can be helped to improve their working memory. This help can be implemented at home and at school. If the parents and teachers decide to work as a team, are consistent in their efforts and persevere over the long term there is a good chance that a child can overcome this difficulty. Obviously, the earlier working memory problems are detected the better.

For information on what you can do to help a child with weak working memory, please read my next article by CLICKING HERE.

Links

Further reading

To explore working with Lianne in Randburg / Sandton and other areas in Johannesburgcontact her for a consultation to discuss how she can assist you.

Articles, Literacy

Lockdown – stimulation & literacy ideas for kids.

Lockdown in Johannesburg (a lock on a fence)

There are so many great ideas available online for keeping children busy and stimulated during this difficult time. There are also a multitude of ideas for building literacy skills and general knowledge during the Coronavirus lockdown.

Many companies & organizations that deal with children’s products have generously made certain online options available for free. It is time to take advantage of these opportunities. Your child could get to the other side of the lockdown better off than they were before.

Freebie Resources

1. Audible (free children’s title)

Audible, which is an Amazon company, has made streaming children’s audiobook titles available for free for now. Listening to stories as a child improves and develops auditory memory, comprehension skills, vocabulary skills, attention span, concentration, visualization, grammar and sentence structure. It also reduces stress as it is an enjoyable and relaxing exercise. You don’t even need to register with Audible. To browse what is available on AUDIBLE, CLICK HERE.

Image of the offer made by Audible.

2. Explore Live Cams (Educational)

Exploring the Explore Live Cams website is a fascinating experience and could well add to an educational discussion around aspects of nature that you are dealing with in homeschooling.

Watch live footage of the Decorah North Eagles in Iowa, USA or the Grace Gorillas in the Gorilla Forest Corridor in the Eastern DRC amongst other options. It is hard to drag yourself away from watching these magnificent creatures when they are unaware of us. Last night we spent a fair bit of time watching a family of Gorillas and this morning another 30 minutes watching a herd of elephants at a watering hole.

Some of the cameras have sound attached so please make sure to turn your volume up. To browse what is available at Explore Live Cams, CLICK HERE.

3. The Body Coach TV (also known as ‘The World’s PE Teacher’)

Joe Wicks has made PE class videos available on his YouTube Channel. He is fun, positive and energetic and is the perfect solution for getting active and ridding kids of excess energy. This is perfect for if you live in a flat or a complex with a tiny garden. Give Joe a try. You may even decide to join in. To go to his YouTube channel and see PE with JOE, CLICK HERE.

4. Storyline Online (books read aloud to children)

Reading aloud to children has been shown to improve reading, writing and communication skills, comprehension, logical thinking, concentration, attention span and general academic aptitude, as well as inspire a lifelong love of reading. Storyline Online is used by teachers in classrooms. For obvious reasons, nurses and doctors play Storyline Online in children’s hospitals.

Storyline Online is available 24 hours a day for children, parents, caregivers and educators worldwide. Each book includes supplementary resources developed by a credentialed elementary educator, aiming to strengthen comprehension and verbal and written skills for English-language learners. To see more of what is available on STORYLINE ONLINE, CLICK HERE.

5. Barnes & Noble (Online Storytime)

Barnes & Noble offers virtual storytime for free on certain dates.

MARCH 28, 2020 – Macca the Alpaca by Matt Cosgrove
In this adorable, quirky picture book, Macca the alpaca loves splashing in puddles and gives the best cuddles. But when he bumps into a big bullying llama named Harmer (who’s no charmer), Macca must prove the value of smarts and kindness.

MARCH 28, 2020 – The Very Impatient Caterpillar by Ross Burach
Ross Burach’s hilarious, tongue-in-cheek exploration of metamorphosis will make you flutter with glee, while also providing real facts about how caterpillars transform into butterflies.

For more information on the events being held by BARNES AND NOBLE, CLICK HERE.

6. National Geographic Young Explorers (free read-along stories)

The Young Explorer is a magazine that includes educational stories about living creatures and our natural world. You can order these magazines in hard copy but they also are available in a read-along online version for free. To access the Young Explorer stories please CLICK HERE.

7. A daily dose of NumberBlocks for the young ones

Yes, I am recommending a daily dose of TV for your child. When the programme being prescribed is as educational, beneficial and amazing as Numberblocks is, you can safely leave your child in front of the TV for 20-30 minutes at a time. In fact, if your child is NOT watching Numberblocks daily I think you should be worried.

What does Numberblocks teach young children:
• number sense • number names and numerals • number order •  bigger, smaller, same • missing numbers • number patterns • first, second, third • adding • subtracting • recognizing amounts on sight •  number bonds • odds and evens • doubling and halving • mental maths • thinking for yourself • being creative • building confidence • solving problems

Within the UK, Numberblocks is available on the CBeeBies website. Outside of the UK you may find NumberBlocks is part of your TV viewing subscription bundle or available on YouTube.

8. Online Chess – teach your child to play Chess

Child playing chess.

Learning to play Chess has many benefits. It can improve and develop a child’s spatial awareness, problem-solving ability, use of logic, forward-thinking, planning, exercise their working memory and improve their self-regulation. All of this can take place in a confined space, indoors against people all over the world matched at your level.

After I moved back from living overseas, a friend and I who had been playing chess regularly, continued to play online for the next few years.

If you and/or your child are raw beginners, have a look at the rules to CHESS HERE at CHESS KID.

If you would like to play online against a human opponent or a computer, then CLICK HERE at MATH IS FUN.

9. Google 3D Animals just for fun

  • Open Google (on an iPhone or Android)
  • Type in an animal’s name
  • Then press ‘View in 3D’If you do not see the option ‘View in your space’ then you may need to download Google Play Services for AR. If you see a message telling you that your device is not compatible with this version then you will not be able to access the ‘View in your space’ feature.
  • If your device is compatible, then approximately 30 seconds later you should have an animal in your house!
  • You can take a photo of the kids with it and they can walk around it.
  • Available animals – lion, bear, shark, penguin, horse, pony, octopus, cheetah, tiger, shark, hedgehog, duck, Emperor penguin, wolf, Angler fish, goat, Rottweiler, snakes, eagle, Brown bear, alligator, horse, Shetland pony, Macaw, Pug, Turtle, cat, octopus, dog and Golden Retriever.
  • Have fun!

10. Audio Books for Young Adults

ESL BITS has a wonderful collection of English Learning Audiobook titles that can be listened to, listened to while reading along or read without audio. They have a wide range of titles and authors. A few examples are such as Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig and Small steps by Louis Sachar, as well as a number of classics. Even when not on lockdown this is a fantastic site.

To see what titles are available go to ESL BITS by CLICKING HERE.

11. Michelle Obama is hosting a weekly storytime for kids during the pandemic

(Update)

Michell Obama begins "Mondays with Michelle Obama" with a reading of The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson.

Storytime with Michelle Obama will begin on Monday 20th April 2020. She will begin her 4 week “Mondays with Michelle Obama” with Julia Donaldson’s The Gruffalo, illustrated by Axel Scheffler. She has teamed up with PBS Kids and Penguin Random House to host a weekly read-aloud series.

Families can tune in to the livestream on PBS Kids’ Facebook page and YouTube channel, or the Penguin Random House Facebook page.

The schedule for this exciting series is below, with each event beginning at 12 p.m. ET (should be 6 pm in South Africa):

  • April 20: “The Gruffalo” by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler (should be 6 pm in South Africa)
  • April 27: “There’s a Dragon in Your Book” by Tom Fletcher, illustrated by Greg Abbott
  • May 4: “Miss Maple’s Seeds” by Eliza Wheeler
  • May 11: “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle

For the original CNN article announcing these events, please CLICK HERE.

I will continue to update this blog post as I come across interesting and educationally worthwhile activities.

Further reading

To explore working with Lianne in Randburg / Sandton and other areas in Johannesburg, contact her for a consultation to discuss how she can assist you.

Articles, Literacy, Reading

Literacy & Reading Intervention:

Boy leans against the back of a chair looking despondent.

Why wait for failure and its repercussions?

Taking a ‘wait and see’ approach to the development of your child’s literacy skills is a dangerous game to play and may have ramifications for their self-image, success in other subjects, your back pocket as well as your family’s leisure time.

Language literacy & the Foundation phase (Grades 1-3)

The goal of the foundation phase is to develop a child’s language and number literacy in preparation for the inter-sen phase, which begins in grade 4 in South Africa. In the foundation phase children ‘learn-to-read’ but in the inter-sen and senior phases they are required to ‘read-to-learn’. Therefore your goal as parents and our goal as foundation phase educators should be to focus on…

  • building a strong foundation by developing phonemic awareness and reading fluency
  • growing a love of reading in each child
  • solving problems related to literacy as they come up
  • overcoming obstacles related to reading before our children reach Grade 4.
  • understand that after Grade 3 there is little to no time within the curriculum for teachers to help children with basic reading skills.

A child who cannot read at grade level, or whose skills are not well cemented, will often begin to drop in marks across all subjects, as they move up past grade 4. Parents, whose children have always done well in Grades 1-3, may find that their child’s marks begin to drop considerably and their child may even end up failing subjects like Maths, as they progress through the inter-sen phase into the senior phase. This drop in marks is mainly because subjects now become more language-based e.g. story sums in math, understanding what is required when reading a test / exam question. Children fail because they can no longer cope with the amount of information they are presented with or the speed at which they need to read & process this information.

The result is that the gap between the struggling child and their ‘speedy reading’ peers continues to grow and so does the burden of catching up. The problem multiplies as time goes by.

Take responsibility and do not ignore signs of struggle.

Your child’s issues from last year may not be apparent just yet, but could still be bubbling under the surface. Do not ignore what you already know. If you have any inkling that your child is struggling, help should be sought straight away. At the first sign of trouble with a child’s reading ability that you feel ill-equipped to deal with, seek help from a reading therapist or specialist remedial teacher.

As a parent, you need to be involved in reading with your child one-to-one on a daily basis. This is not optional. The only way that you can pick up problems is to be reading side by side with your child on a regular basis. The only way you can foster a love of reading is to be reading to your child daily.

For more information on developing a reading culture in your home, please click here. If you’d like to know why you can’t miss out on reading to your child daily, read the following article by clicking here.

The consequences of waiting until they fail

  1. Damage to your child’s self-image and confidence levels.
    Failure can result in a child experiencing feelings of shame, embarrassment and self-consciousness. A child who feels this way no longer feels open to learning and no longer feels brave enough to participate in class..
  2. Reading resistance
    A child becomes resistant to reading when the reading tasks that everyone else copes with becomes too difficult for them to cope with. We find that they begin to avoid reading at all costs as it makes them feel bad about themselves. This results in decreasing opportunities to practice their reading skills, thus widening the gap between the child and his/her peers even more. The problem starts to multiply.
  3. Extended recovery/catchup
    Waiting to intervene means that the recovery / catchup period has to be much longer and is more challenging for your child. The fact that the intervention will take longer also means that it is more expensive. The earlier you intervene the easier it is to get the child reading at grade level again, which might save you having to assist them with other subjects at a later date.
  4. The gap between the struggling child and his/her peers widens
    The more a child falls behind the more they miss out on opportunities to practice their reading skills. This results in the gap between the child and his/her peers widening, as the others gain momentum with each bit of progress they make. As a result, the child who struggles falls further and further behind and it increasingly becomes harder to catch up, until it eventually becomes impossible.
  5. A love of reading does not develop
    A child who struggles with reading usually does not develop a love of reading. For this child, there is no pleasure, joy or meaning to be found in reading. This means that they seldom become independent readers who are able to read independently and teach themselves. They remain reliant on teachers and other adults for learning to take place.
  6. Knock-on effect with other subjects
    Other subjects become more complex as children move up the grades. A child’s ability to engage with a subject is limited by their literacy level. If they are not fluent readers and not yet reading at grade level then they are unable engage meaningfully with the subject and will not take away from each lesson as much as their peers are able to. Their scores in subjects such as Math may start to drop after Grade 4. This is because from grade 4 onwards math becomes more and more language-based e.g. story sums and written instructions.
  7. Behaviour issues
    Children who do not cope, who know that they are not coping, often develop behaviour problems in class. This could be due to feelings of inadequacy and uselessness, lack of self-worth, frustration, fear, humiliation and embarrassment.
  8. Prevention is always better than cure (remedial)
    Preventing reading-related problems is much easier than taking remedial action later on, when the problems are more complex and firmly entrenched. Adolescents who do not find a cure for their reading woes, or who start with intervention too late, often find it difficult to persevere and stay in school through high school. Quite often they drop out before they matriculate.

At what point should you intervene?

At the first sign of difficulty, you should start to monitor your child’s progress and look for clues as to what might be going on. It is never too early to intervene or to consider screening or assessments.

How you intervene can make an enormous difference to how a child feels. Any intervention needs to leave the child feeling good about themselves, that they have improved in some way, that catching up in more manageable than they thought, that they are supported, motivated to try again next time and also having enjoyed themselves. It needs to be a positive experience. This is where dads sometimes go wrong when they decide to help. They turn into drill sergeants and every session ends up in tears.

What do parents need to understand?

  • All parents need to understand that literacy development starts in the home.
  • Talking and engaging with your children in robust conversation around interesting subjects is a good start.
  • The dinner table is the perfect place for this to happen regularly.
  • Having books visible and accessible in the home environment is also essential – even if they are library books.
  • Your children must also see you setting the example by reading yourself.
  • Reading aloud to your children on a daily basis is not negotiable as it lays the most important of foundations for literacy development.
  • All of this gives the teacher something to build on.
  • If your child is going to school without this foundation then your child already suffers from a deficit in comparison to his peers – before he/she has even started.
  • Don’t despair, as it is NEVER TOO LATE TO START READING ALOUD and helping your child along the path to literacy.
  • START TODAY!

What does intervention look like and where do you start?

  1. Visual screening
    Your first move should always be to have your child’s eyes tested by a behavioural/pediatric optometrist. Reading difficulties can be a result of poor eyesight but they could also be due to problems with the movement of the eyes and how well they work together. Sometimes eye strengthening exercises are all that is required, and not expensive glasses.
    1. Ariella Meyerowitz at Sunny Road Optometrist in Glenhazel – https://sunnyroad.co.za/
    2. Spectacle Centre in Linden – http://spectaclecentre.co.za/
    3. EyeTek at the Pick n Pay Centre where William Nicol Dr & Republic Rd meet – https://www.eyetek.co.za/
    4. UJ Optometry Clinics – https://www.uj.ac.za/faculties/health/Optometry/Pages/Optometry-Clinics-.aspx
    5. Dr. Larry Berman Optometrist – https://larryberman.co.za/
    6. For more information and all you need to know about children’s eyesight, please click here.

  2. Auditory screening
    Hearing plays a very important role in learning about sounds, and the symbols that represent them, when learning a language. A child who does not hear well, either because of a physical impairment or because of a processing problem, will struggle to learn to read.

    If you detect any problems, take your child for a hearing test to eliminate loss of hearing as a cause for not being able to hear sounds accurately or clearly.

    Have your child tested further if your child shows signs of difficulty with auditory processing. Auditory processing is how the brain perceives and processes what the ears can physically hear. In other words, your child may be able to hear perfectly but for some reason have difficulty with processing what he/she hears. In this instance, the brain and the central nervous system cannot process sound properly. So the child can hear just fine but they are unable to process the information correctly and meaningfully. This is more common than you might think.

    Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) needs to be diagnosed by an audiologist from around the age of 7 onwards, once the brain functions are fully developed.
    For more information about the signs of APD, please click here
    1. Geraldine Rowell – Speech Therapist & Audiologist – geraldinerowell@gmail.com or 082 850 6328
    2. Nicolene Vlok & Partners at Hear Care Plus with branches in Linden, Linksfield, Mulbartan, Waterfall and Constantia Kloof- http://www.hearcareplus.co.za/index.php/contact-us/
  3. Hire a Tutor
    Your child may simply need some one-to-one assistance providing repetition and more opportunity to practice the skills and code knowledge that they have learned. Every child is different and some children need more repetition & practice than others.

    Hiring a tutor may be recommended by a teacher if it is evident that you do not have time to consistently assist your child. This may require that the tutor works with your child a few times a week. In the long term, this may ensure that your child gets one-to-one assistance with reading, spelling, vocabulary, comprehension and writing.

    Keep in mind that you will have to look at the qualifications of the tutors you hire as anyone can be a tutor – even high school students. Tutors are unregulated and come in all shapes and sizes in terms of experience, qualifications, knowledge and ability. They are also usually less expensive than trained specialists, but keep in mind that where tutors are concerned you get what you pay for.
    1. First Tutors – Click Here
    2. Straight A Tutors – Click Here
  4. Remedial Teacher / Reading Therapist
    If you are serious about helping your child in the shortest time frame possible, then you may want to contact a reading therapist or remedial teacher. If your child shows a combination of a few of the following:
    1. Your child complains whenever you suggest reading.
    2. Your child is unable to read the readers sent home from school and tends to learn them by rote.
    3. Your child gets fatigued after a short period of reading and is not able to decode words they read yesterday.
    4. Your child gets anxious about reading aloud at school.
    5. Your child frequently guesses what the words in front of them are based on the first letter, rather than decoding them.
    6. Your child reads impressively fast but when you actually listen to them you realize that they guess many of the words, add in words that are not there, omit words that are there, adds sounds to the ends of some words and leave the sounds off the end of others.
    7. Your child sometimes confuses ‘b’ & ‘d’, ‘m’ & ‘w’, ‘t’ & ‘f’ , ‘p’ & ‘b’ and reads some words backwards.
    8. Your child frequently misreads words that they know well.
    9. When writing words your child leaves off the ending sounds, leaves out letters for sounds in the middle of the word, writes letters backward and spells words creatively e.g. ‘blek for ‘black’
    10. There is a fight before or during reading time.
    11. Your child’s teacher indicates that your child is not keeping up with their peers and voices his / her concerns.
    12. If there are clear signs that your child is not reading effectively or that he/she has problems with spelling, you can and should contact a reading therapist who specializes in the explicit teaching of reading in carefully planned stages.
      1. Read for Africa has a list of certified reading therapists across several provinces and many suburbs – Click Here
  5. Educational assessment & screening with a Psychologist / Psychometrist
    If you or your child’s teacher have any other academic concerns on top of their concerns related to reading, then take your child for a full psycho-educational assessment. This will give you a clear picture of what to focus on and where to start seeking help.
    1. Samantha Leader – Educational Psychologist – Randburg / Pine Park – 083 226 8401
    2. Aileen Morrison – Educational Psychologist – Randburg / Greenside – aileenpsychologist@gmail.com
    3. Melanie Smith & Chenelle Cohen at Psych Assess – Psychometrists – Bordeaux South – melanie@psychassess.co.za / chenelle@psychassess.co.za – To find out more, please Click Here.
  6. Pediatric Occupational Therapy should this be recommended by a teacher, GP or an educational psychologist
    Occupational therapy can help with certain issues related to reading, such as not being able to cross the midline.
    1. Tracy Angerson & Associates Occupational Therapy in Blairgowrie – 082 786 8552

In conclusion

There is so much that can be done for children who show the slightest signs of struggle with reading. Always start with the basics – bonding & discussion around stories, books available in the home environment, bedtime stories – then make time to help them grow their skills and knowledge on a daily basis if you can. If you can’t, then hire an extra pair of hands that can help. If you suspect the problems are of a more serious nature, then have your child assessed or consult a reading therapist.

Whatever you do, try to intervene before failure becomes an issue.

Further reading

To explore working with Lianne in Randburg / Sandton and other areas in Johannesburg, contact her for a consultation to discuss how she can assist you.

Articles, Literacy, Reading

Grade R & Russian Roulette

Smiling Grade R children sit on a bench while doing an activity with their teacher.

Do you know enough about Grade R to make an informed decision about where to place your child? If your child has already been placed, do you know what your role is during this year, in laying strong foundations for literacy development?

Nursery School

You can ask any parent what a child does at nursery school all day and they’ll be able to give you a list of activities, that tumble off their lips before you’ve even finished asking the question. Everyone knows that at nursery school children play, draw, cut & paste, paint, sing & dance, mold play-dough into shapes, build with blocks and play games. We also know that they learn about colours, numbers, shapes, days of the week, months of the year and seasons. Add to that vocabulary, how to wash their hands, how to look after their belongings, table manners and that ‘caring is sharing’. These are the obvious things, but of course, there is more – much more. By having fun at school kids become smarter, a little more independent and ultimately ready for ‘big school’.

Grade R – the reception year

How many parents with children entering Grade R within the next couple of years can state, with as much certainty, what takes place in a Grade R classroom? You may have a few ideas in your head, but are you certain? Are you one of those parents that thinks that Grad R is all just play and is not very important in the grand scheme of things? Are you one of those parents that think that Grade R is just like Grade 1? Do you know the difference between nursery school and Grade R? Is there even a difference? Grade R is a bit of a mystery to most people and parents are not enough ‘in the know’ about this fundamentally important year that can really make a big difference academically.

Grade R was initially introduced by the Department of Education to bridge the gap between affluent schools and impoverished schools, and also to meet school readiness needs across the board. It has been part of the General Education Training Band (GET) since 1998. It has been around for a while and is now offered as the reception year at most public schools, some nursery schools and many Early Childhood Development (ECD) centers across the country. Unfortunately, this extra year has so far reportedly not contributed hugely to bridging the educational gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, but has actually widened it.

With Grade R being so widely available, many children attend some form of Grade R before entering Grade 1. This could be through a public school or through a private center. This should mean that these children are entering Grade 1, ready to learn, on an equal footing with their peers. Unfortunately, this is not the case for some.

There are as many variations & interpretations of the Grade R curriculum as there are ECD centers and schools out there. There is a smorgasbord on offer. So how do you choose wisely between them? What do you look for? If you’ve already chosen one what should you expect?

Is Grade 1 a level playing field

In addition, there are still some children who do not have the luxury of attending any type of schooling, let alone Grade R, before entering Grade 1. On the other hand, there are other children that are already burnt out, stressed out and disinterested in school due to developmentally inappropriate learning tasks & activities, being under pressure to perform and the over-assessment that sometimes happens in Grade R classrooms. As a result, the Grade 1 classrooms can be an unpredictable mess of maturity levels, emotions, skills, knowledge, ability, anxiety and fear at the beginning of the year. The Grade 1 teachers are expected to level the playing field within 1 year, which is highly improbable unless they have class sizes of 10-15 children.

There can be consequences for placing children in Grade R to young

Parents are placing their children into Grade R as early as they possibly can, mostly for one of two reasons. One, which I have heard multiple times is that the fees for Grade R are lower than nursery school fees and the belief that if your child is already in Grade R, at your chosen school, then they will get preference when it comes to Grade 1 applications. The other reason is that parents want their children to have a headstart and an advantage over their peers. I must warn you that putting your child into Grade R prematurely is not wise and may not give your child a headstart at all. In fact, it may even backfire and have the opposite effect if they are not ready, or mature enough, to cope.

Parents dare not ignore the importance of this year for childhood development, school readiness and the building of a strong foundation for the development of language learning & literacy development. However, not all Grade R classrooms are made equal and you need to ensure you find a good one.

The role of the home environment

If you listen to what some parents are saying and their versions of how they approach schools and teachers, it is evident that parents believe that education is solely the responsibility of the school. They, therefore, believe that if their child is not doing well it is entirely the school’s fault. There are so many problems that arise from this type of thinking, however, there are good reasons for why it exists, which I won’t go into now. However, I want to challenge this thinking because after more than 20 years in the field of education I know that success is about teamwork and collaboration between the home and school and that this teamwork results in academic success and highly literate children, who grow up to be employable and have great prospects in their chosen field.

The home environment plays a critical role in providing stimulation, a love of learning, a good work ethic, as well as the development of emergent language & literacy skills. If the adults surrounding a child set a good example and, through their behaviour, send the message that reading and literacy skills are important, then the child will ultimately think so too.

A parent’s attitude towards education, the school and teachers can have a significant impact on a child’s views on attending school and learning. So be careful what you say in front of them and be aware of the behaviour & attitudes you demonstrate.

Raising Literate Children

“Learning to read for meaning is the most critical skill children learn in primary school. It is the skill upon which all other skills depend.” (Nic Spaull, Jan 2019). From Grade 1-3 children are expected to learn-to-read and to achieve being able to read for meaning. From Grade 4 onwards they should be able to read-to-learn. Little to no time is spent on developing reading skills after Grade 3. You will need to make an investment in a remedial intervention or pay an English teacher/tutor to assist your child in catching up. This has long term ramifications for your child’s self-confidence and your own time and money.

Literacy development is a team effort between the school and the home and the sooner you start the better. It is a daily task that slowly builds up to the acquisition of the desired skills and ability. There is no shortcut. There is no crash course and no quick fix. You can’t totally outsource it. The child loses out if one party is not doing its bit on a daily basis. It is a daily slog and grind, which if you commit to ultimately results in the gift of literacy, that can never be taken away.

Do you know & understand what it takes to raise literate children or are you just winging it in the hope that your child has a successful journey through 13 years of schooling? Are you going to leave your child’s literacy development solely up to a confused and ailing education system or are you, as a father or mother, personally going to contribute? Are you going to make sure that your child does not miss out?

Wouldn’t you rather find out NOW about

  • your role as a parent in the development of literacy skills
  • the ins and outs of Grade R
  • how Grade R helps build a foundation for future literacy (reading, writing, speaking and understanding)

Don’t play Russian Roulette. ATTEND one of my upcoming WORKSHOPS and find out all you need to know about brain development, school readiness, Grade R & developing literacy in your child as you close some of the gaps in your knowledge. These workshops are aimed at parents with children aged 3-5 years old (either in Grade R already or going into Grade R in the next couple of years).

These workshops are how I help parents of young children make certain that they find a good fit for Grade R and that they lay the most solid foundations for literacy that they possibly can, without leaving anything to chance. Grade R is now seen as the entry point into the school’s foundation phase, in which your child will learn-to-read and develop a solid foundation for learning at school. It is my job to show you, through these workshops, how to ensure that this happens so that by the end of Grade 3 your child is ready for reading-to-learn rather than still learning-to-read. 

If these are your goals too, then join me at one or more of my workshops and become informed on how YOU can positively contribute to your child’s education and future academic success.

See the ‘Workshops’ tab for upcoming dates.

References

Spaull, N. (Jan 2019). Priorities for education Reform (Background Note for Minister of Finance 19/01/2019. (13 November 2019) <https://nicspaull.com/2019/01/19/priorities-for-education-reform-background-note-for-minister-of-finance-19-01-2019/#comments>

Further reading

To explore working with Lianne in Randburg / Sandton and other areas in Johannesburg, contact her for a consultation to discuss how she can assist you.

Articles, Literacy, Reading

Why Reading Matters | Isobel Abulhoul | TEDxWinchesterTeachers

Isobel Abulhoul addresses her TEDx audience of teachers about 'Why Reading Matters'.

Isobel Abulhoul has led a tireless campaign to improve literacy and a love of books, particularly for children. She makes many valuable points in her talk below.

In her talk, Isobel makes the valuable point that reading matters because statistically it has been shown that human beings have a better chance in life if they read regularly. She points out that reading is one of the most unique defining features of human-beings – our ability to read, write and record all that we discover and think about.

Isobel also discusses how her childhood and parents led her to her love of reading, how this waned for a time, and then how it was once again reignited by passionate teachers and good reading material. She points out that it is our duty as significant adults to find ways to help others to enjoy books and reading, especially those who currently do not.

Her message ties in with what I so strongly believe – that becoming a reader can change the course of your life, that the adults in our lives can give us the gift of literacy and a love of reading and that this allows us to take control of our own education and learning. I believe that if you can read well and if you love reading, you can teach yourself anything you want to learn. You are no longer dependent on others for learning.

Links:

Why reading matters | Isobel Abulhoul | TEDxWinchesterTeachers
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1gbKWco-u-I

Further reading

To explore working with Lianne in Randburg / Sandton and other areas in Johannesburg, contact her for a consultation to discuss how she can assist you.

Articles, Literacy

Why we all need to start reading aloud to our kids | Keisha Siriboe | TEDxWanChai

Keisha Siriboe addresses her audience on reading aloud to kids.

I have such fond memories from my childhood of my mom reading aloud to us girls. I can still smell her, feel the fluff of her jersey against my cheek, sense the up and down motion evoked by the expression in her voice. There were three of us and we’d fight to be on either side of her, closest to her. Being the oldest child I usually had to give way to one of my younger sisters. But this gave me the opportunity to gaze at my mom while she read, taking in the effort she put in with her eyes, facial expression, speed, volume, tone and variation. All of this created the magic that everyone speaks about in relation to books. There is no doubt that it starts with the bonding that takes place.

In her TEDx Talk, Keisha Siriboe reflects on this magic when saying, “The power of parent-child reading aloud is more than just the skill, it’s the bonding and if anyone has experienced being read to or reading to a child, there is something, and I’m gonna use an unscientific term to describe it. It is absolutely magical if you experience enjoying a story with a child.”

Keisha states what we already know which is that the research indicates that 15 minutes of reading aloud a day is the minimum amount of time you need to invest in order to start seeing some outcomes. However, Keisha wants us to go beyond just these 15 minutes, which is a good start and talk about the power of reading in a way that ties back into 21st-century skills, which is currently one of the hot topics of the day.

Keisha Siriboe also stresses the role of parents & child themed books by stressing that there is no better way to introduce children to the world than through a children’s book that presents the child being a child, which is something they relate to. She also puts emphasis on the fact that there cannot be anything better than being taught by someone you love more than anyone in this world, a parent, in what should be the safest place in the world, the home.

Her call to action asking us to build a bridge that connects our children to a better tomorrow by reading to them today if a challenge that is applicable to all countries, not just Hong Kong.

Links:

Why we all need to start reading aloud to our kids | Keisha Siriboe | TEDxWanChai
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VsAtwkHRorY

Further reading

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